Billy Price Band
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Billy Price Band

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1990 | INDIE

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1990
Band Blues R&B

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"Billy Price Wins Blues Music Award in Memphis"

Pittsburgh R&B star Billy Price knew he had a good one with “This Time for Real,” his collaboration with one of his musical heroes, Otis Clay, and it was confirmed by the rave reviews.

On Thursday night, the project took another step, winning best soul blues album at The Blues Foundation’s 37th Annual Blues Music Awards in Memphis.

Price was on hand to receive the honor and also perform “Somebody's Changing My Sweet Baby's Mind,” the album’s opening track, with the all-star band.

It was a bittersweet moment for Price having to accept for Mr. Clay, a Blues Hall of Fame member who died in January at 73.

“My happiness at receiving this honor is tempered by my sadness at having to accept it alone,” Price said, accepting the award. “We honor and cherish the memory of Otis Clay every day.”

The two singers first performed together in the early ‘80s, and then recorded a duet of "That's How It Is" on Price's 1997 album, “The Soul Collection.” “This Time for Real,” their first full-length album together, was produced by Roomful of Blues guitarist Duke Robillard in Rhode Island and Chicago.

Mr. Clay also won for best soul blues vocalist.

Price was honored here last Thursday night as an inductee to the Pittsburgh Rock N’ Roll Legends. - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


"Make No Mistake, Price and Clay Put the Music World on Notice With “This Time For Real”"

About every five years or so a Soul album comes out that is so good, so right, that you are scared your turntable’s stylus will melt down. I think of Eddie Floyd’s, William Bell’s and Otis Reddings great records on Stax in the 1960s, Al Green and the Hi Rhythm sections records produced by Willie Mitchell in the 70’s, out on the West Coast it was Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. You can’t forget Tyrone Davis, ZZ Hill, Syl Johnson or Mr. Bobby Bland down South. Back East you had Gene Chandler and Curtis Mayfield in fact sometimes it was hard to tell them apart. Down in New Orleans there was Eddie Bo, Willie Tee, the Meters and later the Nevilles. God I love sweet soul music. I sure wish they still made music like that...

Well my Christmas wish came early this year or more precisely on May 19, 2015 because that is the day that two of my favorite soul singers still fighting the good fight, Otis Clay and Billy Price joined forces and released their absolutely wonderful new album, “This Time for Real”.

I know coming from me, you’re thinking “For Real?” No Really, it is that good and I am not alone in that opinion. See Scott Mervis' review : Music preview: Billy Price and Otis Clay create a new soul classic in the Pittsburg Gazette.

From the opening strains of “Somebody Changing My Sweet Baby’s Mind” you are transported to that musical Loveland where songs like Davis’ “Can I change My Mind”” and Floyd’s “I Never Found A Girl” serve as sweet inspiration, all the way through to the albums last track, an inspired version of “You Got Me Hummin’” that finds Clay and Price channeling Sam and Dave so authentically it is downright spooky. Along the way the former Hi Records stable mate to Al Green and the Hodges and Billy Price aka William Pollak of Roy Buchannan and the Keystone Rhythm Band fame prove.

Everything works on this disc, ably produced by Duke Robillard a man who knows just a little about working with great horn sections. Robillard, a cofounder of Roomful of Blues, tapped two of the current members of Roomful, Doug Woolverton on trumpet and Mark Earley on Saxes , to round out his current band of Mark Teixiera on drums, Brad Hallen on bass, Bruce Bears on keys and of course Duke handling all guitars. Add the excellent backup vocals trio of Theresa Davis, Dianne Madison, Diana Simon and the result is a band that will have you doing double takes to the liner notes (for which I thank you Bill and Mark!).

I would be remiss if I did not mention that Mr. Earley arranged all the horns on this record. Just listen to the horns on tracks like "All Because of Your Love" and "Too Many Hands" and you will agree that the arrangements and execution are top notch. Woolverton and Earley deserve a big share of the credit for giving this record its timeless, authentic feel and tone.

Besides the above mentioned tracks, highlights for me include something funky, Syl Johnson’s “Goin to the Shack” which is perfect pacing in follow up to the sugar rush from the opening track and the slow burn of "I'm Afraid of Losing You" which follows. The previously mentioned “All Because of Your Love” is so good I am without words …You get the picture. For the romantically inclined listen how Clay and Price handle "Love Don't Love Nobody". The two singers voices compliment each other very nicely and the phrasing throughout the album is impeccable. For Americana and country fans there is a great version of Book of Memories complete with Bruce Bears' honky tonk piano and Duke adding some Nashville inspired licks on guitar.

I also just love the selection of Los Lobos “Tears of God” which brings to mind Ruthie Foster’s cd “Let it Burn” from a few years back. Like "This Time For Real" Ruthie did an album of mostly covers for "Let It Burn" but the arrangements were so fresh and the performances so killer, you did not care. Like Price and Clay she also covered a Los Lobos track, "This Time" and made it her own.

No detail was overlooked in this labor of love with beautiful art and design by MaryBianchi and Hyla Willis. Add David Aschkenas very cool photography and the end result is a gorgeous product that must be owned in its tangible form.

Let's hope that Clay, Price and Robillard as well as the the Roomful horn players can coordinate their schedules this summer and Fall to do some live performances showcasing this material. If you do get out to see Mr Clay and/or Mr. Price buy the cd directly from them at their show or, if like me, you can’t wait, it can be purchased at http://www.billyprice.com/billyprice/store.php - No Depression


"Funky Funky Soul, Billy Price Band"

Veteran Blues Bytes readers are aware of our unabashed enchantment with the music of Pittsburgh-based blue-eyed soul singer Billy Price. This wonderful singer can now be seen as well as heard on their band's first DVD release, Funky ... Funky Soul (BRBF). This 90-minute show was recorded live at the Belgium Rhythm & Blues Festival in July of 2003. Reviews indicate that Price and his band stole the show from several more heralded blues acts. Just one viewing of this disc will show you why. Price is one of the hardest working performers in the biz and the ultimate showman. He leads his tight band through several of his own classics, including his signature tune "Eldorado Cafe." Price is at his best when he's covering deep soul singers Tyrone Davis and O.V. Wright; among the soul chestnuts on this show were Davis' "Can I Change My Mind" and Wright's "Nickel And A Nail" and the superb "Ace Of Spades." As always, Price's band provides excellent accompaniment. I just have one word to describe this DVD --- 'Wow!' - Blues Bytes, Bill Mitchell


"Billy Price and Otis Clay Create a New Soul Classic"

The dedicated music fan falls for an artist and delves into everything that band or singer ever recorded. And then there is that next level -- the music geek, the scholar, the practicing musician -- who takes it a step further and wants to hear everyone else on the label, particularly the boutique labels.

That's how Billy Price discovered Otis Clay.

"I remember hearing the second Al Green album on Hi Records, the one with 'I'm So Tired of Being Alone,' " he says, "and I thought 'Man, this is just like the great Stax stuff.' I started to buy everything on Hi Records. Hi was kind of a resurrection of Memphis soul music. I sort of thought after Otis Redding died and everything faded out there that Memphis soul was done."

This Otis, as compared to Al Green, had more of a growl, as heard on his first big Hi recording, "Trying to Live My Life Without You," which turned out to be one of the more successful songs of his career (and later a No. 5 hit for Bob Seger).

Nearly 35 years since Price heard him, we now have Billy Price and Otis Clay's "This Time for Real," their first full-length album collaboration, already being hailed as one of the old-school soul highlights of the year. (Price will play a release show without his collaborator on Friday at Club Cafe.)

The two singers took very different paths to soul music. Mr. Clay grew up in the '40s in the small Mississippi town of Waxhaw, singing in church and hearing blues and soul on the radio. The late '50s found him singing in Chicago gospel groups, and then in 1962 he split off with his first secular soul songs. He had his first R&B hit in 1967 with "That's How It Is (When You're in Love)" and then a pop hit in 1968 with a cover of Sir Douglas Quintet's "She's About a Mover." In 1971, he moved to Hi and a year later released "Trying to Live My Life Without You," produced by Willie Mitchell, the man behind the Al Green hits.

Price was a Jewish kid from suburban New Jersey (last name Pollak) growing up in the '60s listening to New York stations and favoring a DJ named the Dixie Drifter, who spun Southern soul. His first band, the Rhythm Kings, formed at Penn State around 1970 and then relocated to Pittsburgh to become a Walnut Street institution. Price, who took the name from Lloyd Price, was recruited to sing for guitarist Roy Buchanan in 1972, and he spent a few years on the road with him. In '77, he formed the Keystone Rhythm Band, taking an Otis Clay song, "Is It Over?," as the title track of its 1981 debut.

"My manager knew how crazy I was about Otis, and he contacted him in Chicago," Price says. "He said, 'We'd love to have you come work with the band.' He was reluctant and standoffish for a while. My manager told Otis, 'Give Billy a call and call him collect,' which he did and I accepted the charges, and we got to talking, and somehow I made the sale with him."

Although hesitant to come east without his regular band, Mr. Clay joined the KRB for back-to-back shows in D.C. at Desperado's and at Mancini's in McKees Rocks.

"Singing together with Otis on 'Is It Over?' for the very first time, I was so overwhelmed emotionally, I almost couldn't finish it," Price says. "It was a thrill for me."

Since then, they've performed together more than a dozen times around the country, along with recording a duet of "That's How It Is" on Price's 1997 album, "The Soul Collection," and a cover of "Love and Happiness" on his 2009 album, "Night Work."

Having gone in more of a blues-rock direction the past two albums, Price was compiling a list of songs a few years ago for what would become "The Soul Collection Vol. 2."

"About that time, I get a call from Otis. He says, 'Man, I just got back from the Rhythm and Blues Cruise, and there must have been 10 people who came up and said, "You and Billy Price have to do an album together.' " I said, 'We don't have forever. It's time to do this.' "

Clearly, legends like Otis Clay, who is 73, are in increasingly short supply. "Especially someone that age with that kind of drive and commitment," says the 65-year-old Price, who works a day job as manager of communications at Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute.

As luck would have it, a week or two later, Price got a call from Jack Gauthier, the manager of Roomful of Blues guitarist and recent Bob Dylan guitarist Duke Robillard. He said they were looking for an artist to produce and did he want to make an album.

"I said, 'What about an album with me and Otis Clay?' He said, 'Uh, yeah!' "

Vizztone, a label co-founded by famed guitarist Bob Margolin, was happy to release it.

"I was taken and shaken by Billy Price and the Keystone Rhythm Band in the 1970s, when I was playing guitar in Muddy Waters' band," Mr. Margolin says. "Billy has been one of my favorite singers, without qualification, ever since. I first heard Otis Clay through Billy's versions of his songs and sought out his music. I know they've sung together over the years, but I think 'This Time for Real' is the ultimate expression of their soul music together."

They stuck pretty close to what Price had planned for "Vol. 2," with Mr. Clay also suggesting "I'm Afraid of Losing You."

The 12-song record is like a new soul classic that has them blending vocals on such songs as The Spinners' "Love Don't Love Nobody," Johnny Sayles' "Somebody's Changing (My Sweet Baby's Mind)" and Holland and Dozier's "Don't Leave Me Starving for Your Love." Notice that they're less standards than hidden gems -- a Billy Price trademark.

"We're going for songs that are great songs that for whatever reason never became hits," Price says. "You can make it yours in a way, because it's not already associated in people's minds and memories with someone else."

What it didn't turn out to be was one of those live-in-the-studio projects. They couldn't get Mr. Clay to Rhode Island, so Price went for a week to work out the songs with Mr. Robillard, his band and members of Roomful of Blues.

"I said, 'Well, OK, if you can't bring Muhammad to the mountain, you can bring the mountain to Muhammad," Price says.

They booked two "insane crazy days" in Chicago to cut the vocals from both singers, along with Mr. Clay's three smooth backup vocalists. Then Price returned to Rhode Island to patch it together.

"I was really impressed by how the band was able to get into that pocket of a Southern soul band," Price says. "They're from New England. I probably had a prejudice against musicians from New England, that they can't play that greasy Southern stuff. But indeed they did."

As for working with Mr. Robillard, he says, "We just really see eye to eye on everything. And he has a much sharper technical ear than I do. He would say stuff like, 'Youuu ... should come back here and maybe fix the intonation of some of your vocals,' and I didn't hear it. I'm glad he had that sense of perfectionism."

Already, the album is getting played on Sirius, and last week's review in No Depression magazine started with, "About every five years or so a soul album comes out that is so good, so right, that you are scared your turntable's stylus will melt down."

"They sing from the deepest places of the heart, and their voices and the music behind them are so sweet and sweaty, a triumph of human musical achievement," Mr. Margolin says.

Price realizes that the Memphis soul sound isn't the hottest thing going right now, even in vintage music circles. But, he says, "It was always a hard sell. It's no harder today than it was [then]. Everybody likes it, but it obviously appeals mostly to a niche audience, although when people who are not part of that niche audience hear it, it's not like it's esoteric or difficult to enjoy. It's very accessible.

"My approach to it is different," he adds. "I'm not a typical white blues guy because I'm much more oriented towards soul. Even though I've worked with tremendous guitar players who can move their fingers really fast, that's not what I'm really about. I'm mostly about songs." - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Discography

This Time for Real, Billy Price and Otis Clay (Bonedog/Vizztone), 2016
Strong, Billy Price Band (DixieFrog), 2014
Live on Stage, Billy Price and Fred Chapellier, CD + DVD (DixieFrog), 2010
Night Work, Billy Price and Fred Chapellier (DixieFrog), 2008
East End Avenue, Billy Price Band (Bonedog), 2006
Funky...Funky Soul!!!, Billy Price Band, DVD (Bonedog), 2003
Sworn Testimony: The Billy Price Band Live (Green Dolphin), 2002
Can I Change My Mind, Billy Price (Green Dolphin), 1999
The Soul Collection, Billy Price (Green Dolphin), 1997
Danger Zone, Billy Price (Corona), 1993
Free at Last, Billy Price & the Keystone Rhythm Band (Antenna), 1988
Billy Price and the Keystone Rhythm Band Live (Antenna), 1985
They Found Me Guilty, Billy Price & the Keystone Rhythm Band (Green Dolphin)1982
Is It Over?, Billy Price & the Keystone Rhythm Band (Green Dolphin), 1979
Livestock, Roy Buchanan (Polydor), 1975
That's What I'm Here For, Roy Buchanan (Polydor), 1972

Photos

Bio

Billy Price has been entertaining audiences in Pittsburgh, Pa., since the early 1970s. In April 2016, he was officially recognized and inducted as a Pittsburgh Rock ’n Roll Legend at an award ceremony sponsored by the Cancer Caring Center of Pittsburgh. 

Members of the Billy Price Band are Steve Delach (guitar), Tom Valentine (bass), Dave Dodd (drums), Jimmy Britton (keyboards), and Eric DeFade (tenor sax).

Billy Price first attracted national attention during his three-year association with guitarist Roy Buchanan. Price is the vocalist on two of Buchanan's LPs, That's What I'm Here For and Livestock. Price assembled Billy Price and the Keystone Rhythm Band in 1977. Before their breakup in 1990, the band recorded four critically acclaimed LPs and developed a reputation as one of the most exciting touring bands in the U.S.

With the Keystone Rhythm Band, the Billy Price Band, and solo projects, Billy Price has recorded and released a total of 14 albums, CDs, and DVDs. His album This Time for Real, with recently deceased Chicago soul singer Otis Clay, received a 2016 Blues Music Award by the Blues Foundation of Memphis, Tennessee in the category of Best Soul Blues Album.

A live album by the Billy Price Band, Alive and Strange, will be released by NolaBlue/Vizztone Label Group in April, 2017.

Band Members